Monday, July 20, 2009

U of Michigan Hospital - Our Temporary Home Last Week

We had a difficult week last week, but we are adjusting.

After Tom's un-stroke on Sunday, we went for his scheduled chemo on Tuesday. After learning about his trip to the ER, his oncologist felt she wanted to know why he has had brain problems, physical weakness and walking instability, so she postponed chemo in favor of a referral to one of U-Michigan's neurologists.

She's good at getting appointments - inside of two hours, we were sitting in the neurologist's exam room. After a battery of physical tests and questions, the neurologist recommended that Tom have further testing. If we wanted to do it on an out-patient basis, it would probably take a couple of weeks to schedule.

Or . . . she offered to admit Tom immediately to the hospital, guaranteeing him all the tests he needed within the next day or so. Well, heck, we were already there, and Tom wanted to get it over with, so he was admitted and scheduled for tests.

By Tuesday noon, he was in his hospital room, and within two hours he was off to get an EEG (I think that's what it's called - anyways, a brain scan). The next test was an MRI, which came at 5:30 am Wednesday. Tom hates MRIs. But he managed to get through it, all that pounding noise giving him a headache, and was fairly chipper by the time I showed up Wednesday morning.

By early Wednesday afternoon, they performed a spinal tap. In his room. And I was allowed to stay with him. Actually, I should describe it as spinal taps - because the first one they attempted didn't take. More neurologists and nurses were called in, plus more morphine, until they were able to make the second spinal tap work. What is supposed to be a less-than-one-hour procedure took more than 2 1/2 hours, and a whole lot of morphine and local anesthetic. Tom needed to be awake during the tap, which is difficult since this procedure is so terribly painful. He toughed it out, and when it was done, was even able to laugh a bit with his comedian-neurologist.

Afterwards, he didn't remember the pain. The brain definitely knows how to block bad situations, and he'd completely forgotten the intense pain he'd endured.

By Thursday, he was released. None of the possible problems they were searching for were found. That's the very good news. Prayer works.

However, that means we are back to Square One. No one can explain why he's stumbling and falling, nor why his brain is sometimes - but not always - so foggy he can't talk more than one word at a time, comprehend questions, add simple numbers, and why he shows Parkinson's-like symptoms. The only possible explanation they've offered is that he possibly has "chemo brain", which may or may not clear up on it's own. There apparently is no treatment for chemo brain.

Tom's oncologist has suggested that he take a few weeks off from chemo, hoping that he will strengthen physically, and that his brain will return to normal. Since last week's hospitalization, he's only been noticeably wobbly once, but hasn't fallen. His brain is still foggy off and on, and we're not seeing any major improvement yet.

We are staying strong. Time will be our friend. He's had eight grueling chemo treatments; his brain needs a vacation.

Thank you all for your prayers. God does listen.


aosLeather said...

sounds like quite an ordeal, but it also sounds like you & he have exactly the right attitude about everything! Prayers and the best of luck to you!

Lois said...

I can REALLY empathize with chemo brain. I had it regularly as I went through my treatment. I would go into the hospital for chemo on a Tuesday and come out on Saturday. By Thursday, I was a mess. And it continued after I finished the round. My nerves were shot; I couldn't think or focus. In fact, when I had to fill out some papers, a friend had to do the writing. I could only give the answers needed. I was high strung and would cry on a dime. This continued until my white count came up about 10 days later. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband as you go through this ordeal. Please send him my best - from one survivor to another!

Alice said...

Beth, you and Tom are often in my thoughts. I hope the two of you will get through this latest hurdle with great speed!